USS ASHLAND -- The USS Ashland, carrying elements of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, left Sattahip, Thailand, Feb. 21, 2016 following the completion of Exercise Cobra Gold 16.
This was the 35th iteration of Cobra Gold, which is designed to advance regional security and ensure effective responses to regional crises by bringing together a robust combined task force from partner nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
CG16 began Feb. 8, 2016 . The 31st MEU Marines went to bases across Thailand to train alongside 27 participating or observing partner nation services including the Royal Thai and Republic of Korea Marine Corps’. The Marines participated in events ranging from the Amphibious Capabilities Demonstration in Rayong, to spending a day with local children at the Child Protection and Development Center in Chonburi.
The Marines worked together with the partner militaries on everything from amphibious assault vehicles to humanitarian assistance operations, according to Capt. Joseph Fontanetta, the Alpha Company Commander, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. CG16 helped the Marines form strong long-lasting bonds with their partner nations.
The 31st MEU Marines finished their training for Cobra Gold, Feb. 21, 2016. Before the U.S. Marines left their camps and headed back to the Ashland they exchanged farewells and personal gifts with their counterparts to show their appreciation for each other.
“Even though we are from three different countries, we all share similar experiences,” said ROK Marine GySgt. Hong, Suck Joon. “We have a strong brotherhood that we all share through the Marine Corps.”
The 31st MEU started to load the Ashland and prepare to leave Thailand, Feb. 18, according to Cpl. Jacob Rizzo, embark non-commissioned officer with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
“We took three days to fully load and prepare the Ashland to leave again,” said Rizzo “February 21 we set sail to continue the MEU’s spring deployment.”